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Thursday, Nov 30, 2023

Interpretation request tabled at NPC meeting

Interpretation request tabled at NPC meeting

The National People's Congress heard Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office director Xia Baolong introduce Hong Kong's request for an interpretation on the national security law on the first day of a standing committee meeting yesterday.
In a statement last night, Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu thanked Beijing for accepting his request.

However, Hong Kong's sole delegate to the committee, Tam Yiu-chung, said he had "no comments" on whether the interpretation will be discussed during the four-day meeting and would only respond to the media on the last day of the meeting.

Tam has said none of the agenda items from a committee meeting scheduled for this Friday involves Hong Kong so far, but added that newly added items are usually only revealed after the conference.

When asked if the scope of interpretation will be wider than expected, Tam said it's difficult to make any assumption at the moment.

Xinhua News Agency said Xia was delegated with the task of introducing the interpretation request by the State Council but did not state whether it has been added to the agenda.

The deputy director of the Hong Kong Basic Law Committee, Maria Tam Wai-chu, also declined to comment on the interpretation issue other than saying it would be better if the issue could be handled during this meeting. Tam also said there is no need for the standing committee to make an enforcement inspection on the security law, which is a form of supervision adopted by the NPC to ensure laws are implemented.

She said many national security trials are still ongoing, while the standing committee has never made such an inspection throughout the past 25 years.

NPC deputy Nicolas Chan Hiu-fung, in an article yesterday, said it's reasonable and legitimate if the NPC standing committee interprets the national security law during the meeting.

In his article, Chan said allowing foreign barristers who don't read Chinese and are not familiar with continental law to represent in national security trials goes against the public interest.

He also cast doubt on the credibility of overseas lawyers who don't have full registration in Hong Kong, saying it would compromise the duty of confidentiality written into the national security law.

He expects the NPC standing committee to interpret articles three and 63 of the national security law.

"The continental law system focuses on the original purpose of the legislation, therefore the right of interpreting the law is not limited within the court," Chan said.

"A country's legislative body is also responsible for filling in the blank and missing areas of the law according to the constitution."

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